Creative Caversham – In the frame – Lydia Gledhill


As well as providing a bespoke picture framing service, a small shop in Church Road is now creating quite an impact as an art gallery. Lydia Gledhill (left) explains to Elestr Lee about her role with the Caversham Picture Framers.

WHILE LOTS of us love art, what’s less appreciated is the craft of presenting a much-loved painting.
Caversham has always been fortunate in having a quality picture framing business in Church Road, which for many years was run by Ian Eggleton. He retired in 2016, and Alex Foster opened Caversham Picture Framers, which subsequently moved one door along from the original shop. The new business is thriving and, as well as offering a bespoke framing service, it is also providing an eye-catching gallery of stunning art.
Fine Art graduate Lydia Gledhill is the consultant many customers will first meet when they take in something that is either unframed or would benefit from reframing. Having graduated from Reading University in 2017, she wanted to stay in the area and was looking for work in the arts’ field and feels so happy that Alex took her on. “Alex trained me,” she explained. “It changes the way you look at things. I find that now, when I visit an art gallery, rather than just looking at the paintings I find I am looking at the frames the galleries use!”
Caversham Picture Framers has a workshop in Pangbourne and employs three fulltime framers, as well as a part-time specialist who paints frames as required. Lydia is thrilled with the variety of styles and possibilities which can be offered. “When customers bring in their pieces of art, we always first ask them how they would like it to be framed. Some have a clear idea, but others are seeking our advice. For example, the frames can be painted or hand-stained, or our customer may choose a factory finished frame. There are so many ways of mounting an artwork.”
One benefit of the new premises is that there is space on the walls for a vibrant art gallery, featuring the work of both local and national artists. Lydia, in collaboration with Alex, has been delighted to develop this side of the business.
“We now have around 43 artists on our books,” she said. “We work a lot, though not exclusively, with the Reading Guild of Artists. We take around six works from each of the artists which are on display in the shop. Throughout the year, we also focus on one artist per month, launching an exhibition free for the public to view. The artist provides us with a large volume of their work, and up to four of their framed paintings are hung in the window.”
Local artists whose work has been exhibited at Caversham Picture Framers include sculptor Roger Smalley, Ade Breton, Matt Emmett, Sally Castle and Alma Federico. The most recent exhibition which was on display all through March featured the work of landscape artist Cat Croxford. Cat, who used to live in the Mapledurham area and paints the woodlands of Berkshire, South Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, has twice been selected for the Society of Botanical Artists. She was shortlisted for the British Art Prize – as well as reaching the heats of Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year this year. She is delighted to have a large body of her work on display in Caversham Picture Framers, and gave a presentation about her work to the invited guests at the exhibition’s launch at the end of February. “It was my project to start up these events,” Lydia said. “Alex said, ‘Off you go!’ so I organised the first one. They are really taking off now, and the launch events are really bustling!”

Ade Bretton (centre) at the launch of her exhibition in 2023, with Alex Foster (left) and Reading Deputy Mayor Glenn Dennis

As well as the work of contemporary artists, featured exhibitions are sometimes varied with prints and posters – all for sale – and which may be from different eras. Lydia, who concentrated on concrete sculpture for her own degree, is delighted to be turning her own artistic talents to exploring the possibilities of displaying visual art, through advising on framing, as well as nurturing the work of artists and creating bold and exciting exhibitions.
“Creating big sculptures is only possible if you have a large studio space, so nowadays I create things which are smaller scale. However, I am a ‘people person’ and I always saw myself working in an art gallery,” she said. “I wanted the chance to put on an exhibition, but it’s not just the artwork, it is being part of the community, and showing that there is so much more going on that people might not know about.”
So when you are next caught at the Church Road traffic lights, take a look in the windows of the Caversham Picture Framer or, better still, step inside to take a look at the carefully curated gallery which is making such an impact on our local arts scene.

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